Thematic Studies- Translated by Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch
VI. The Eroica in Its Relation to the Prometheus Music and Other Works
“Around 1803 Beethoven once said to his friend Krumpholz: ‘I am not satisfied with my past works. From now on I want to strike out on a new path.’ Soon afterwards appeared the three sonatas op. 29 [= op. 31].” Carl Czerny (1852) (NBJ IX, 67) 1. Preliminaries From what has been presented so far it will be apparent that the connection be- tween the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus and the Sinfonia eroica is a good deal closer than scholars have hitherto presumed. To summarize the relations we have demonstrated: Viganò’s ballet is, according to the playbill, a heroic-allegorical ballet. Its action circles about the heroic figure of the Titan Prometheus, the benefactor of humanity. Among the indispensable components of the balli eroici are re- splendent pageantry, combat and fencing dances and warlike dances. The Pro- metheus ballet contains such a dance. The piece No. 8, called a “martial scene” by Carl van Beethoven, proved to be a danza eroica. Of Prometheus we read in the playbill of the ballet premiere that the Greek philosophers “describe him as a lofty spirit, who at his time found humans in a state of ignorance, refined them through sciences and art and taught them man- ners.” Beethoven declares on the title page of the first printing of the Eroica that the symphony was composed “to celebrate the memory of a great Man.” These givens alone point to a close link between the subjects of the ballet and the Ero- ica. How far...
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